How often do you consider the source of your protein? I mean, really. Not just the amount of protein that you get from ingesting something, but where it comes from, how it’s treated and the other benefits it might have for your body. These are all important factors in choosing a product that’s right for you.
The world is constantly discovering new and interesting sources of clean, healthy protein that might not have been considered when protein powders and workout supplements were new on the market. In days gone by, the choice was limited largely to whey and soy, but with new innovations in heat treatments and cold pressing, protein powder can be made from many more plant-based sources.
But is there a huge difference between different plant-based sources? Vivo Life uses a blend of cold pressed hemp, bio fermented pea, and pumpkin seed protein in our protein powders, as they all have different health benefits. We’ve previously explored the benefits of pea protein against the more traditional soy, and now we can explore the difference between two of the up and coming protein powders; pumpkin seed and hemp seed.
Did you know that pumpkin seeds are chock full of protein? I’m guessing that’s why pumpkins can grow to the size of cars (or horse drawn carriages if you have a fairy godmother and your name’s Cinderella!). Seriously though, 100g of pumpkin seeds contains a whopping 19g of protein, which sounds unreal until you remember that pumpkin seeds are quite light, and chomping through 100g may well have an adverse effect on your teeth, never mind the fact that a single serving size of pumpkin seeds is about 28g!
In traditional medicine, pumpkin seeds have been used to treat kidney problems, and urinary infections, as well as having a nutrient profile which reduces the risk of developing certain chronic conditions, including types of cancer. Not only this, but pumpkin seeds have a naturally high magnesium content (which a lot of people don’t have enough of in their daily diet), which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and stave off diabetes. They also contain unsaturated fats and many antioxidants thought to reduce inflammation.
Despite its health benefits, pumpkin seed protein is not considered to be a complete protein, as it is low in the amino acids threonine and lysine. However, it is highly digestible and contains a diverse range of amino acids, minerals, vitamins and iron.
Let’s talk about hemp…
Made by pressing hemp seeds (surprisingly!) and then grinding them into powder, hemp protein is often considered to be a high quality option for protein powder. This is because it holds many healthy compounds aside from just protein. These include dietary fibre - super important for keeping your gut healthy - a large number of minerals, and unsaturated fats. It also contains all nine essential amino acids.
It’s a great alternative for those who prefer their protein to have less processing than proteins from animal based sources, making it more natural. It’s also one of the best protein sources for easy digestion, so all those amino acids, minerals and protein are more bioavailable. This is improved even further by looking for cold pressed hemp seeds, as heat treatment can remove some of their bioavailability and digestibility, which is why Vivo Life’s hemp based protein powders PERFORM and VEGAN PROTEIN use cold pressed hemp for maximum nutritional power.
Due to the presence of beneficial fatty acids omegas 3, 6, and 9 in hemp protein, it might contain a higher calorie content than other protein sources or powders per serving, and might not fit in with your health goals. However, fatty acids are absolutely vital for our overall health, including ensuring your eyes, brain and heart are looked after.
The high amounts of dietary fibre (around 8g per serving) in hemp protein might also cause gas and bloating in some individuals if consumed too fast - so sip your shakes slowly, people!
Is there a winner?
In short, there isn’t really an outright winner. Both protein sources are plant-based, require minimal processing and have extra benefits outside of providing clean, easy to digest protein.
Hemp seeds are higher in calories than pumpkin seeds, but contain more folate, niacin, riboflavin and Vitamin B6 per serving. Both have similar profiles in terms of other vitamins, with pumpkin containing more dietary fibre per serving.
All in all, you can’t really do better than blending pumpkin seed and hemp protein with other plant-based sources for even more health benefits. For example, Vivo Life’s VEGAN PROTEIN contains 21g of plant-based protein, third party tested for heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides, with absolutely nothing artificial - so you can have your protein with extra benefits too!